Posts Tagged Attracting birds

13 Ways to Get your Yard Ready for Winter

The weather is becoming more chilly!  So, before winter weather really sets in, here are 13 tips for getting your yard ready for the colder weather:

#1. Aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn.

#2. Remove any dead tree limbs or plants.

#3. Use that compost pile by mulching your yard.0rainbarrell

#4. Plant a “cover crop” like clover on bare areas or over a garden that won’t be used.

#5. Cut back on your watering, but don’t cut it off.  It sure isn’t raining every day just yet!

#6. Transplant anything you want to move and plant anything else you want in the ground.  Remember, if you have particularly hard soil, be sure to dig a larger hole than the area of the plant – and be sure to loosen plenty of soil all around the planting area.

#7. Add winter flowers to your border.

#8. Clean out your pond, stream, fountain, or other water feature.  Also, take a look at your water feature equipment and see if anything needs to be replaced.

#9. Add any fallen leaves and chipped branches to your compost pile.  iStock_000009122825XSmall

#10. Move any outdoor furniture into your covered porch or into its winter storage area.

#11. Clean out your gutters and make sure they are directed properly.

#12.  Consider getting a rain barrel for your gutter system.

#13. Keep that bird feeder and bird bath stocked.

Here’s to a beautiful yard – all prepared for winter!

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Giving your Yard a Natural Feel

Whether your yard is hardscaped or grassy, is on a hillside or an irregular lot, creating a balance between nature and man-made is important.  Here are some ideas for keeping your yard feeling natural – no matter the soil or lot type.

  • Plant flowers and other pretty plants among “useful” plantsMeeting Place

Adding flowers into your vegetable bed attracts more bees and good insects.  Even if your yard is all trees, you can solve a “bare ground” problem by planting flowers along the drip line of your trees.  Additionally, if there is heavy shade that doesn’t let up, plants like ferns can thrive.

  • Use bright pots to decorate bare spaces

If you have a lot of hardscaping, or even just unworkable soil, try planting up colorful pots of flowers and herbs and placing them around your yard.  This softens up the landscape.

Another idea is to add a water feature to the area.  A fountain or pond cools down a hot yard, and can soften the most extreme hardscaping.

  • Plant a “green wall”

One of the “next big things” in the world of landscaping is a green wall.  This is a wall with plants installed within it so they grow off of it.  This is a beautiful statement – and a great sound barrier.

  • Utilize bordersGarden with stone landscaping

Planting up a small border garden with flowers, herbs, fruiting bushes or vegetables make a plain lawn look lush and gorgeous.  These border areas can also attract birds, butterflies and bumble bees to your yard.

  • Hang pots

Hanging pots full of fragrant herbs and flowers can make a stuffy back porch feel cool and beautiful.

Here’s to a great spring and summer, filled with bright blossoms and cool greenery!

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Tranquil Garden, Tranquil Mind

Some yards and gardens make you relax as soon as you walk into them.   The Japanese Garden of Tranquility is one of those gardens for me.  Often, these gardens take a cue from nature.  Today I wanted to discuss how you can take a cue from this type of garden to get your own little corner of tranquility.


One of the principles of Japanese gardening is to utilize things which seem old, or are old.  One way to do this is to repurpose materials.

For example, you can utilize an old picnic table to be your new gathering place in your garden.  Or you can hang and old ship’s bell as an art installation.

Think with SymbolismLotus Plant

Different flowers and art pieces or arrangements mean different things to the Japanese.  You may not have studied Japanese symbolism, so it’s possible that those things mean nothing to you.  Instead of taking what means something to others, examine what you could install in your garden that means something to you.

For example, I have a Gerber daisy in my garden which my aunt gave me from the flowers at my grandmother’s funeral.  It blooms every year and reminds me of her.  I also grow sun flowers because they remind me of my childhood in Tujunga.

You may have plants which mean something deeply personal to you that you can plant in your garden.  Perhaps plants are not symbolic to you, but a particular bird or bug is.  Plant things which will attract them.  You can also install pieces within your yard that make you happy or which remind you of happy times.  (Remember all those rocks and shells you or your kids have collected?  Perhaps you could make your own display of them.)

Give Yourself SpaceRelaxing on a hammock

Most of us want to utilize every single inch that we own.  We want that mortgage to be paying for something we are utilizing 24/7.   Sometimes, though, allowing yourself some empty space in your yard is the best way to utilize the space.  Remember to leave open space for you to enjoy.

Block Noise

When you are in your garden, you don’t want to be hearing your neighbor’s conversations or the traffic noise coming from the street boarding your home.   Install fencing or walls or foliage which will screen your yard from intrusion.  If you can still hear exterior noise, consider installing a water feature.

Go Green

If various flowers or animals isn’t what makes you feel peaceful, then try adding various types of greenery to your yard.  Agaves, flax, Boston ivy, kale, cabbage, and various ground covers can draw your eye in a more peaceful way than vibrant flowers.

Add Natural Touches

Create a natural space to enjoy by using nature-inspired art and furniture.  For example, a complex pattern on your hammock or lounge chair may be eye catching, but a moss green or ocean blue may be more restful.

Here’s hoping your backyard is the exact combination of nature and tranquility for you.


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Fun Waterscaping Ideas

Waterscapes aid your landscape in many different ways.  Water features block ambient noise, add beauty, and (in some cases) allows an environment for new, low maintenance pets.

Here are some fun and interesting ways to incorporate waterscaping into your yard:

Create a space for small creatures

If you have plants of varied heights and types, it’s likely you will attract birds, butterflies, bumble bees, and other varied creatures that are fun to watch.  You can add to that attraction with a nice water feature.  There are a couple of approaches to this:

Traditional bird bath.  Just a plain-Jane birdbath.  Simple and effective.

Artsy fountain.  The idea is to provide these creatures with a place where they can access water.  Interesting fountains surrounded by small, damp stones can give various animals many places to rest, bathe, and drink.  The idea is to provide a perch in water deep enough for a small bird to bathe, and shallow enough that they won’t worry about losing their footing and drowning.

Small fountains for small spaces

If all you have is a terrace, deck or balcony, you can add a small fountain to your space in order to block out the ambient noise.

Small fountains can also be a gorgeous focal point for an entryway, for a back patio, or for that uneven portion of lot that you don’t know what to do with.

You can add a small fountain by installing a terracotta pot which appears to overflow into surrounding rocks, and with the watering then recirculating back into the fountain.  Another idea is to install a small sculpture or art piece with the same principle.  Or to install a waterline which runs up an adjacent wall and lets the water out through a spigot or piece of tile work on the wall.

Install a water feature disguised as a raised bed

That just sound weird, right?  But you can hide a pretty little water feature in among your raised beds.  Add some lily pads, maybe a turtle or a couple of fish, and you have a raised pond that accents your existing raised-bed look.

Plan for a shallow streamBackyard waterfal

What is better than the sound of a babbling brook?  Maybe the sound of a breeze rustling the leaves above your head as you lay back in your hammock and enjoy the harmonious sounds of nature.

If you prefer a little bit of drama, you can get a small stream installed which ends in a little waterfall.  This can be especially beautiful on a multi-level yard.

Allow water plants to run wild

If you have an existing water feature that you’d like to spice up, or if you want the sound of running water, but want to keep the motif green, try adding plant life.  There are some really gorgeous water plants that can add texture and dimension to your landscape.

Here’s to a visually and aurally beautiful yard!

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Greening up your garden

Here are some ideas on making your yard even more environmentally friendly:

– Adding a rain barrel.  Now is a great time to add a rain barrel to your home, since it might actually rain this time of year.  Rain barrels can help keep your watering costs down.

Planting fruit trees, and planting veggies.  What can be more locally grown than something grown at home?

– Add a timer to your sprinkler system.  This can help ensure your plants get watered in the most cost-effective manner.

Attract birds. If you attract birds to your yard, not only will they eat up bad insects, they will help fertilize your yard.

Set up a compost heap. Adding your yard waste up into an official area of your yard give you free compost later on in the year. Just make sure to keep it wet and to turn it!

– Think about adding native plants to your landscaping.  Local and native plants need less attention and water, and are a safe haven for local beneficial insects and birds.

It’s a great time of year to do all of the above.  So here’s to a happy, and green, holiday season!

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Helping the birds out

It’s the time of year when our little feathered friends need your help most.  It’s getting chillier and birdies are migrating straight toward us. Now that you’re probably considering trimming your trees and generally cleaning up your yard for winter, what can you do to help out feathered friends in the wintertime?

Here’s a few ideas:

– Put your lawn and plants to bed by mulching them.  This creates a nice little area for worms and helpful bugs to continue to live, and these bugs not only enhance your soil, but will help feed your little feathered friends.

– Set up a bird feeder.  This includes keeping up your hummingbird feeder.  Hummingbirds migrate instinctively and will return to the last place they fed.  Hopefully this place is your yard.   Additionally, keeping the rest of the migrating birds fed will help them in their journey and create a joyful and colorful yard.

– Install a pond, bird bath or waterfall with little pebbles an inch or less under the water-level for birds to perch on.  Birds love to bathe and drink cool, clean water.  Keeping your pond, bird bath or waterfall up will help your friends in their migration, as well, it will aid them as they wait for spring rains.  Obviously, if you live in an area where you expect freezing temperatures, consult with your landscaper about when and how to create a bird friendly bathing spot that won’t damage your pipes.

– Put up a bird house. If you don’t have cats, you can install a bird house close to the ground, in a bush, or another likely spot.  You can get some really neat and distinctive bird houses – bird houses made of gourds, with scraps of recycled materials, etc.

– Plant a tree or some bushes.  Right now is a great time to plant, as new plants will concentrate on establishing their root systems instead of on new blossoms and leaves.  Additionally, it’ll give your feathered friends new places to perch and rest up for continued migration, or just to batten down the hatches for wintertime.

Here’s hoping you have a busy, productive yard this winter!

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Our Fine Feathered Friends

The  moment I know summer is coming is when I hear the birds tweeting in the middle of the night.

If you love birds singing and enjoy watching the flutter of foliage, you should set your yard up to be a bird-friendly environment.  How does one do this?  Here are some ways:

1. Set up a bird feeder. You can get one just for hummingbirds, as well as the traditional seed feeders for our feathered friends. Just be aware that usually squirrels also take advantage of these barrels o’ food.

2. Install a bird house.  Bird houses are super cute and birds enjoy them.  They are also a fun project for any children/crafty adults in your life – or (for the less crafty… i.e., me) they are fun to shop for at swap meets and thrift stores.  I found a crazy bird house with china siding and a door knob perch!  Some people go all out when they build these houses and there is a bird house to suite any taste.  So, I’m sure you can find a place to attract the most discerning birds.

3. Plant flowers like honey suckle, morning-glory, evening primrose, sage, Mexican sunflowers or zinnias to attract hummingbirds.  Another advantage to some of these flowers, is they can attract butterflies too!

4. Set up a bird friendly environment.  I have citrus trees, low bushes and tons of flowers.  The blue jays, sparrows, hummingbirds, etc love it.  Variety is the key here as some birds like low-lying bushes, while others enjoy tall trees.

5. Install a bird bath.  Birds love to take a dip in cool, clean and preferably fresh water.  Often, they will take a little bath if the location provided is about 3 feet off the ground, around 3 inches deep and has running water.  Also, you can add little spots for our smaller feathery friends to stand by adding small rocks and pebbles to the bottom of your bird bath.

6. Want something more complicated or visually pleasing than a plain ol’ bird bath?  Try adding a water feature which contains fresh, clean water.  Birds don’t want to get muck on their feathers.

In general, the basics needed to attract birds are: food, water, cover and a place to raise their families.  Local plants will attract local birds more effectively than imported plants, but as long as you provide some nice shady places, a variety of natural habitat and some clean water, you will attract birds.

Two additional advantages to attracting birds to your yard: they eat insects who would otherwise eat your plants and their droppings fertilize your soil naturally.  🙂

So, here’s to a beautiful yard featuring plenty of foliage.

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